10 Steps to a Balanced Life

It’s no secret that harmful hormones produced during times of stress, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can wreak havoc in all areas of our life, including causing weight gain, decreased immune response, and illness. Follow these simple guidelines and you will decrease your level of stress, increase your immune response, increase your metabolism, and provide you with the energy and confidence to be all that you can be.

1. Eat a well-balanced diet (4-6 small meals/snacks per day) with a fruit or vegetable at EVERY meal & snack—-fruits and vegetables are low in fat, loaded in fiber and vitamins and minerals, and abundant in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which fight disease, and keep you strong and youthful.

2. Avoid most all refined products, & packaged convenience products, e.g. crackers, cookies, cakes, donuts, chips, fried foods. These products are high in fat and sugar, and low in fiber. They increase the total ratio of bad fats to good fats in the diet, contributing to the oxidation of cells, increasing risk of disease, and limiting your intake of fruits, vegetables and high fiber (100 % whole-grain) foods, e.g. brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat breads, whole-wheat waffles and pancakes, and high fiber cereals.

3. Avoid soda pop and drinking excess juice for beverages. Excess sugar contributes to weight gain, dental diseases, stress, and to the drainage of your body’s energy. Limit to 100 calories from beverages per day, (not including milk). Replace with at least 8 glasses of water per day starting when you get out of bed! Water increases your metabolism, and aides in the breakdown of fat! Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol, and drink adequate servings of milk everyday!

4. Limit intake of high-fat meats, and make meat the accompaniment to the meal, instead of the center of the meal. Include seafood in your diet at least two times a week, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. A serving is the size of a deck of cards.

5. Don’t eat past 7 or 8 pm. This limits your calorie intake, improves your metabolism, & allows you to eat breakfast the next day. You’ll also improve your sleep quality, allowing your digestive system to rest.

6. NEVER, NEVER, skip BREAKFAST. Get that metabolism fired up with this most important meal of the day. Give your body and brain the START it needs to be STRONG all day, and don’t go more than 4 hours without a meal or snack. (By the way, ALWAYS stop eating before you feel full!)

7. Get adequate physical activity, everyday, or on MOST days of the week. You’ll feel great when you treat your body to aerobic and resistance exercises routinely, resulting in the reduction of the harmful stress hormones. But don’t overdo it, as TOO MUCH exercise without recovery, can decrease your immune system. Resistance exercise will build muscle, thereby increasing your metabolism at sleep.

8. Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night! Sleep allows the body to restore and heal itself. People who sleep 8 hours a night accomplish more in less time and are more alert in stressful events.

9. Get a flu shot every year and take a “one-a-day” type vitamin/mineral supplement daily! Everyone can benefit from a flu shot. Why take the chance of getting sick, if it can be prevented? Studies show persons who take a “one-a-day” type vitamin/mineral supplement have less sick days. But its positive effects are not seen with a poor diet, or when taken in high-potency.

10. Wash your HANDS often during the day and always after personal hygiene. If you follow all of the above tips, you’ll definitely reduce your susceptibility to germs, and increase your immune system’s ability to fight off those nasty bugs, but frequent hand-washing is a MUST!

By Cheryl Winter, MS, RD, MS APRN, CDE, BC-ADM, FNP-BC

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